New Mexico... How did this trip come to be? Well, in July of 2018, Jenna's awesome fantastic amazing work team gifted her with $500 towards a plane ticket to anywhere she wanted to go.
So... Jenna called her best friend Marah and asked where they were going. It only felt right that the destination be random because the trip opportunity had come up so randomly, and it had to be somewhere neither of us had ever been. Montreal, Maine, San Antonio, Charleston... The opportunities were endless and we considered many of them! Then Jenna remembered that Grandpa Jack's cousin Dottye Deane lived in Albuquerque, New Mexico. That was random enough, right? And neither of us had been to the Southwest before. We put the plan in motion, Dottye agreed to host us, we booked our tickets, and off we went to explore a new corner of the country. :)
We went in mid-September, and our arrival date happened to be Marah’s birthday, September 14th. Dottye picked us up from the Albuquerque airport and we went to lunch at this yummy Mexican place not too far from her house. I had only met Dottye once before, at the family reunion in Kentucky!
One thing that instantly struck me was the dry heat! I actually waved my hands through the air because it felt weird to have heat without humidity. I have to say I’d take the humid Florida heat over dry desert heat any day!
The Sandia Peak Tram spans 2.7 miles up the mountain and it took us about 15-20 minutes to get to the top. We went up in the later afternoon, maybe 5 pm or so. Keep in mind that Albuquerque itself is already 5,000 feet above sea level, so by the time we reached the top, we had reached 10,000 feet.
We quickly realized that hiking was absolutely out of the question after we became breathless from climbing a few stairs, but we did find a level trail and walked along that for a ways as the sun started to set.
Every time we turned a corner we had to stop to ooh and ahh. We’d never seen landscapes like this before!
If you know me, you know how much I love city lights. Something about them is magical!
The following day, Dottye took us up to see Santa Fe.
The Loretto Chapel is famous for the spiral staircase that was built without supports.
There are streets and streets full of art galleries to be seen. It’s actually overwhelming in a sense because it’s hard to know where to start! I for sure had to go and look at the Georgia O’Keefe museum.
MeowWolf is designed to be an interactive experience where you have to figure out the story. I’m sure the story gets changed up every so often, but when we were there, the goal was to figure out what had happened to the family that lived in the house. The set up is incredibly elaborate, detailed, and unique. We managed to figure out a few parts of the story, but then became more enthralled with finding out where the hidden doors went to. If you opened the fridge door, you could just walk right through it and down a hallway to another room. But there were so many! We could see a door at the bottom of a tree that people could come out of, but we couldn’t figure out how to get in!
On Sunday we rented a car and drove three hours South to the White Sands National Monument. Road tripping through the desert was the neatest feeling. Also, we definitely ran over a spider that was large enough to know it was a spider. ICK.
Sunglasses are definitely a must at this location! There’s not just tons to do there other than look at the scenery, but we did see quite a few people using sleds to ride the sand dunes.
We realized that we were about 20 minutes from the Texas border and were like dude, should we go to Texas? It would have been close to El Paso, so I texted my Uncle Steve and asked what we could do for a few hours in El Paso, and he said don’t bother, go to Ruidoso instead. And we did. :) Super cool little mountain town in New Mexico! We wandered the streets and looked at a couple art galleries here too.
I used to looooove finding new coffee shops on every trip I ever went on, but since I’ve been on the West Coast, I’ve grown to like Starbucks so much that nothing else compares anymore, so that tradition is kind of ruined for me.
The views were crazy beautiful on our drive back to Albuquerque! It went from pouring rain to double rainbows to stunning sunset. It felt amazing to roll the windows down and let the 90 degree heat whip through the car.
I had my hand on the roof of the car and something hit it. As I was OWWWing, Marah laughed and she was pretty sure it was a bird.
The following morning we got up bright and early to experience a hot air balloon ride! They launched three balloons one after the other, which is cool because I quickly realized that you can’t take photos of the balloon you’re riding in very well. :)
After the balloon ride, we had to stop at the nuclear museum.
I very distinctly remember watching Bert the Turtle’s duck and cover video in Mr. Dennis’ 8th grade class.
Next we went over to old town Albuquerque, which was much more enjoyable than Santa Fe. Similar setting but on a less busy scale.
Sopapillas were served with meals at all of the Mexican restaurants we visited. I just called them pillows.
On our last day, Dottye asked if we wanted to visit a tea room. Marah and I never had so we said heck yeah! I might’ve nerded out a little when I realized the theme of the month was Harry Potter.
After tea, we drove up to Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks national monument.
Again, the 90+ degrees and high elevation hindered our hiking efforts. We got to the part that would’ve required actual climbing and turned around cause we were so hot and sweaty. Still such beautiful views though!
This trip was soooo fun! I’ve looked back through the photos many time since. I think it just has a special feeling to it because it was different than anything we’d ever done, and that was something my work wanted me to do with the plane ticket they gave me. I’d definitely recommend New Mexico as a travel destination! Albuquerque was the perfect home base for us. Dottye and her husband were such gracious hosts and I loved getting to know them a little better. I hope I get to go back again someday!